Thursday, 5 November 2015

"Sensation" stories

Lucky you lot, getting two blogs from me in 24 hours. Anyway, I did it again. A nice big dose of red cordial before bed. You know what that means.

As you all know, my favourite book is the combination of "Little Women" and "Good Wives" by Lousia May Alcott. There is one chapter in that book that speaks to me, and that is chapter eleven of "Good Wives", which is simply titled "Friend". In it, Jo discovers that she can make plenty of money by writing cheap "sensation" stories with no substance or moral in them whatsoever (In fact, Mr. Dashwood, her publisher, even tells her himself that "morals don't sell"), nearly disgracing herself. Thankfully her friend and future husband Prof. Bhaer takes her to one side and shows her the error of her ways.

This chapter speaks to me, as does the whole book, and I definitely agree with it. "Little Women" is still a classic, it's still widely read, it's still studied. Why? I think it's because it's not a cheap little sensation story (which is why I get SO pissed off when people try to condense it into a cheap little love story between Jo and Laurie), it's a story of growing up, learning to be the best of oneself, to work with others and to love others. There is something in that story (and its sequels, including "Little Men" and "Jos Boys") that you can take away with you. THAT, in my opinion, is what a book should be.

Another brilliant example of this is "Harry Potter". There is so much you can take from it, like learning to accept death and learning to love. Another favourite of mine, "A Solitary Blue", also has plenty to take away from it. Learning to accept who you are is a lesson I don't think many people (including myself) ever really learn.

I thought about it recently when I put "Chuckles and Giggles" aside in favour of Project B.A.D.A.S.S (Bitches And Demons Against Soul Suckers), which was nothing more that a stupid vampire/zombie story with no substance. Once I realised what I was doing, I turfed it and got back to working on C&G. At least in "Chuckles and Giggles" I know I've tried to give my audience something to take away, like the Sunny Saga, where Belle and Charlie learn to look past appearances and show kindness to Sunny who desperately needs a friend, or the Webster and Tate Arc, where obsession leads to Tates untimely death compared to how Belle handles her similar situation. My personal favourite is the Chuckles vs. Giggles Saga, where both Belle and Charlie have to face the fact that both of them are growing up, and that growing up will bring changes - some good, some bad.

I think myself and my fellow creators should think a bit more about what we write instead of just churning out cheap "sensation" trash that earns $$$. When future generations look back, we don't want them to skip us over in favour of older generations who took the time and care to write stories with meaning and substance.

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